The day after authorities charged a South Jersey Catholic school's custodian with being a high-tech Peeping Tom, parents expressed anger as they began to find out their children were among those secretly videotaped in private areas of the school.
"It's outrageous. I can't believe it. I'm really in shock," the mother of a senior at Gloucester Catholic Junior-Senior High School, in Gloucester City said Thursday after she was told her daughter was among those taped.
She did not give her name in order to protect her daughter's privacy.
The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday that those identified on the tapes were being notified.
One of John Martin's tasks as a custodian was overseeing the network of school security cameras. Prosecutors said the 41-year-old used the cover of his job to set up an elaborate second secret network of hidden cameras in locker rooms and other changing areas, and captured video and pictures of students and teachers in various stages of undress.
Officials said Martin installed tiny cameras in eight rooms at the school, including the choir room, weight room, backstage area, maintenance facilities, and football area.
The Camden County prosecutor and Gloucester City police said he amassed hours of video footage and many pictures that appeared to be screen shots taken with his cellphone from the video.
Most of the shots are of females, some in various stages of undress, authorities said. It was not known how long the spying went on. Martin, who resigned this week, is an alumnus of the diocesan school and had worked at the 700-student institution for 18 years.
He was arrested Wednesday, a day after parents were alerted to the situation by a letter from the school's principal, John T. Colman.
"My friend just got a call that she was on the camera," Melissa Balderman, 18, a senior, said on her way to school Thursday morning.
"I don't think any of us were ever naked" in the rooms where the cameras were installed, she said.
"It's a little shocking. But everyone is pretty chill with it. It's still a good school," she said.
That's how many in the school community felt as news spread that the well-liked custodian was not who he seemed to be.
As they hurried to class, students, dressed in the school's collegiate-style white cardigan sweaters, plaid skirts, or khaki pants, said they would survive by sticking together.
"We'll get through it," one said. "We all are like a family."
Another student said Martin "seemed like a great guy. He always helped people."
He, too, was optimistic.
"We'll bounce back from this. It's a great school," he said.
Michael Kenney, 47, the father of a sophomore and the 1985 class president, agreed.
Kenney said he had complete faith in the administration, which he said "acted appropriately, effectively, and efficiently as soon as they got the information to handle this matter."
With access to the school at night and high-tech equipment, Martin was easily able to elude detection, he said.
"He used Mission: Impossible-type equipment," he said of the quarter-inch-diameter cameras.
A mother dropping off her freshman son was less upbeat.
"It's a disgrace," she said, declining to give her name. "It's sad. It's no reflection on the school. It's not the school's fault. But it's sad to think that it could have gone on for that many years. Who knows how many pictures he has?"
Martin was charged with one count of third-degree invasion of privacy and released on his own recognizance on condition he not go near the school or any students or staff.
He could face additional charges, officials said.